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Parents and teachers raise concerns over school return

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Norma Foley. Picture: Frank McGrath

Norma Foley. Picture: Frank McGrath

Norma Foley. Picture: Frank McGrath

Parents are seeking clear and consistent communications between schools and families as preparations continue for the reopening of schools at the end of the month.

And teachers' leaders have warned that health measures for schools must be kept under constant review and resources made available for bringing in extra teachers.

Aine Lynch, chief executive of the National Parents Council Primary, said there must be clear two-way communication between schools and families about how safety protocols will work in schools.

"It is vital that there is no confusion as conflicting messages can be very difficult for children. Confusion impacts a child's feelings of safety," she said.

Paul Rolston of the National Parents Council Post Primary said a return to normality is vital for the mental health and wellness of students.

"We have concerns that anyone facing difficult circumstances who cannot make it back to school must be looked after. There must be a commitment that students who are unable to return to school are supported. It is important no one is put at risk in efforts to get everyone back at school," he said.

John Boyle, general secretary of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, said matters needing to be clarified include what provisions will be in place for staff and pupils with serious health concerns, and enhanced measures to ensure there are enough teachers, including substitutes.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (Asti) general secretary Kieran Christie said teachers are concerned by the short timescale to implement safety measures. The sustainability of the Department's Covid-19 Response Plan must be reviewed regularly for any deficiencies.

The Education Minister must ask the Health Protection Surveillance Centre to review interim recommendations for schools before they reopen, he said. ASTI requested a review on mask or visor wearing in schools. Resources being made available may prove insufficient to maintain a safe and quality learning environment. Schools must be enabled to meet all aspects of the expert health advice, he added.

Sunday Independent